Iranian environmentalists to plant 1 billion trees in 5 years

November 17, 2019

TEHRAN – As long as deforestation is haunting the country, environmentalists have decided to join hands and plant one billion trees during the next five years, IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

An environmentalist, Hossein Abiri-Golpaygani, told IRNA on Sunday that it is scheduled to plant 200 million trees each year in cooperation with NGOs and relevant state-run organizations which can reach up to one billion in 5 years.

Trees are among the most important species on the planet due to offering over 30 useful services to the ecosystem, such as oxygen production, wildlife species protection, soil and ground water resources preservation, most importantly reducing air pollution by absorbing the particulate matters.

Each tree produces 2 kilogram of oxygen annually, so one hectare of trees can produce 2,500 to 3,000 oxygen which help 10 people to breathe oxygen, while they can reduce the area’s temperature by 11 degrees.

As forests play a significant role in the carbon cycle, when are cut down, not only does carbon absorption cease, but also the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the wood is burned or even if it is left to rot after the deforestation process.

According to climateandweather.net, forests store up to 100 times more carbon than agricultural fields of the same area, it is estimated that more than 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere due to deforestation, mainly the cutting and burning of forests, every year.

Over 30 million acres of forests and woodlands are lost every year due to deforestation.

Despite all these advantages the trees can bring us, they are taken for granted even in Iran as 2 million hectares of northern forests have been depleted since past 30 years.

In Zagros Mountains forest steppe (located in the country's western border), 30 percent of its 6 million hectares (3.5 percent of Iran) is wiped out, and 18 million oak trees died of pest and diseases.

During the past five years, 4 to 5 million trees in northern forest have died.

Each 50-year old tree is worth $200,000 for its ecological value, while we easily cut down trees aging 100 over above due to road construction or mining activities.

Iran is ranked 17th among countries around the world regarding its wide land area, which constitutes 1.2 percent of the whole world’s land area, Abiri-Golpaygani said, adding, Iran is a unique country for its weather condition being four-seasoned.

He went on to lament that over the few past decades, some issues like climate change and excessive wood extraction have caused the forests to bear dire consequences and in some cases to disappear.

To overcome the issue, some countries have thought of a solution such as Ethiopia which have announced to plant 200 million trees in a day but people had planted over 350 million trees by the end of the day, he explained, adding, we can use the same experience to help preserve the country’s forests.

Abiri-Golpaygani went on to say that since the past 30 years NGOs have been officially started working to lead the public contributions to social issues, and now we should use this capacity to conserve natural resources.

If some 500 trees are planted per hectare of land, about two million hectares of land are needed, so 20,000 square kilometers across Iran will be covered with trees, which accounts for one percent of the country’s land area, he also added.

To plant one billion seedlings throughout the country, we can use students’ capacity which accounts for about 15 percent of the population, even teachers can take an effective step by making pots from recycled waste, he said.

Provincial natural resource departments also can come efficient and provide the students with the needed seed and fertilizer, while determining the appropriate tree type, he noted.

Moreover, governmental organizations, universities, hospitals, stadiums, offices, parks, urban green spaces can all join planting seedlings and save our country, Abiri-Golpaygani concluded.

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